No not really, not yet anyway … but it made you look! We’re still watching and waiting for the first minke of the season to turn up and what with Icelandic whaling ships getting ready to set sail any day now we’re even keener than ever to start seeing minkes in Scottish waters, a safe haven from the whalers harpoons. Iceland have given themselves a quota of 200 minke whales for this season … 200 too many … and its heartbreaking to think that some of those 200 may end up including whales that we’ve sighted from our survey site in recent times!
(For more information on the common minke whale and research projects visit our online Species Guide and associated “Species of the Month” blog – where minkes are the flavour of April!)
The weather in this part of the world really does have to be experienced to be believed … 4 seasons in one day is an understatement! From blue skies and sunshine one minute, to watching a storm roll in across the Minch towards us the next. (Bad weather however means that the Icelandic whalers won’t get out whaling so there is always a positive to every negative – and we are secretly delighted to hear the gale warnings in place for the south east coast of Iceland!) But as you’d expect, the storms soon blow themselves out and generally move off to the south, after depositing a hefty amount of rain! We even had hailstones and snow the other day – and yes we did check it wasn’t just volcanic fall-out!!!
One unsung spectacle this far north are the glorious beaches that hug the coast. White sands and green water could lead you believe that you’re not in Scotland after all and are in fact on some far flung tropical beach! Then again … a quick nod to the gloves, hats and scarves brings you back to the correct co-ordinates on the map!
Some sad news to share is that of a recent marine mammal casualty … it wasn’t at the hands of the navy but at the teeth of a dog! The local marine mammal medic (our friend Ian French) was contacted by a concerned local who spotted what turned out to be a 2/3year old male otter who’d been attacked by a dog – poor little thing had a nasty hole in its head and looked as if it would lose the sight in one eye. Ian was taking him off to one of the local wildlife sanctuaries to get the attention he deserved. We’ll keep you updated on the little chaps progress (the otters that is, not Ian’s!) but we’re hoping he’ll make a full recovery and be able to be released back to where he was found – where hopefully the irresponsible dog-owner will no longer be! The very least they could have done is informed someone of their dog’s behaviour and tried to get some help for the otter … makes you wonder where people’s morals disappear to at times!
It would appear that the Joint Warrior exercise is over as all the navy ships have left the area (it’s been busy every day that we’ve been here) and the fishing boats are back out in force. A sense of calm has fallen over the Minch, the waters are running free of warships and submarines and it’s certainly a much quieter place to be!
And so it’s back to our minke vigil over the Minch … on this our penultimate day the conditions couldn’t be better and if there’s anything out there, we’ll see it! (Already got a few nice harbour porpoise sightings down for the day!) Hopefully we’ll also be treated to another outstanding Wester Ross sunset (with a breaching minke in the foreground?) …. You just never know up here, so fingers are crossed!!